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Ken Borland

Kruger National Park – Malelane & Berg-en-Dal 0

Posted on July 26, 2017 by Ken

African Buffalo, with Redbilled Oxpeckers, resting up in one of the puddles left by the first rains of summer

African Buffalo, with Redbilled Oxpeckers, resting up in one of the puddles left by the first rains of summer

The drought situation in Kruger National Park in 2016 reached such drastic proportions that it was one of the driest years in recorded history in some areas of the south, but blessed rains eventually fell in early December.

So when I nipped into the park for a morning’s birding on December 5, big puddles of water were still visible from the first rains of the summer. I figured the availability of this surface water would prove attractive to animals and so it proved.

The S114 is the first gravel road on the right after entering through Malelane Gate, and it runs along the Crocodile River before heading northwards towards Skukuza. Shortly before this, close to the S25 turnoff, there were large puddles of water formed next to the road in this area of mixed woodland and thorn thickets on granite, and next to them, half-a-dozen African Wild Dog were lounging around under some bushes.

I found two Buffalo lying in a mud-puddle on the side of the road as well and they were clearly not keen to leave, even though I was parked right next to them, clicking away happily on my camera.

Ahhh ... bliss. A Redbilled Oxpecker gives a Buffalo a spa treatment.

Ahhh … bliss. A Redbilled Oxpecker gives a Buffalo a spa treatment.

Sadly, the rains came too late for many animals and, also on the S114 close to the Crocodile River, a Hippopotamus carcass was lying under a tree, in which one of those rather confusing African Fish Eagle juveniles was perched.

A juvenile Fish Eagle, whose hunting skills have not been fully honed, is quite likely to eat carrion, especially in a dry spell when their preferred food is scarce, but whether or not this individual had been gnawing on some Hippo, I have no way of knowing.

A Whitebacked Vulture was nearby in a tree, another portent of death.

A Whitebacked Vulture with a hoof? in its mouth.

A Whitebacked Vulture with a hoof? in its mouth.

A Hamerkop flew over the H3 tar road as one approaches the bridge over the Crocodile River, in which there was still water, the river being classified as a perennial, with the usual array of birdlife along its course. A solitary African Openbill, a couple of Glossy Ibis, which are considered rare in Kruger Park, only erratic visitors, and Yellowbilled Stork were with all the other common waterbirds, along with Great White Egret and Water Dikkop.

The S110 road turns left from Malelane Gate and heads north-west towards the Berg-en-Dal camp, running between some of the highest hills in Kruger Park, the differences in altitude meaning a great diversity of plants, which attracts a host of birds.

Southern Whitecrowned Shrike were buzzing between the bushes and a few Monotonous Lark were calling in the valley below the slopes of Khandzalive Hill, which is the highest point in the park at 840 metres.

There were a couple of White Rhinoceros with calves, a very pleasing sight, and, close to Berg-en-Dal Dam, a Monotonous Lark was perched on some low branches and scrub and rather scratchily giving its for syrup is sweet call.



Monotonous Lark

Even the reptiles were out and about, with the impressive Blacklined Plated Lizard crossing the road.


Sightings list

Egyptian Goose

African Openbill

Sacred Ibis

Grey Heron

Cattle Egret

Yellowbilled Stork

Glossy Ibis

Southern Whitecrowned Shrike

African Elephant

Blackeyed Bulbul

Southern Black Flycatcher


Greater Kudu

Whitewinged Widow

Glossy Starling

African Buffalo

African Buffalo

Wiretailed Swallow

Monotonous Lark

African Buffalo

Redbilled Oxpecker

Forktailed Drongo

Lilacbreasted Roller

Cape Turtle Dove

White Rhinoceros

Little Swift

Brown Snake Eagle

Laughing Dove

Plains Zebra

Sabota Lark

Southern Yellowbilled Hornbill

Spotted Flycatcher

European Bee-Eater

Woodland Kingfisher

Blacklined Plated Lizard

Yellowfronted Canary

Arrowmarked Babbler

Blackcollared Barbet

Plumcoloured Starling

Redbilled Hornbill

Jacobin Cuckoo

Helmeted Guineafowl

African Hoopoe

African Wild Dog

Redbilled Oxpecker on African Buffalo

Redbilled Oxpecker on African Buffalo

Grey Lourie

Longtailed Shrike

Whitebacked Vulture


Grey Hornbill

African Fish Eagle


Slender Mongoose

Great White Egret

Hadeda Ibis

Blacksmith Plover

Pied Kingfisher

Whitebreasted Cormorant

Water Dikkop


Sharks have tough time against 14-man Rebels 0

Posted on November 18, 2016 by Ken


The Cell C Sharks had a tough time beating a 14-man Melbourne Rebels team in their Vodacom SuperRugby match at Kings Park in Durban on Friday night, eventually scrambling to a 25-21 victory.

The crowd had little to get excited about in the first half until the 29th minute when a fight broke out between Sharks tighthead Jannie du Plessis and the Rebels number three, Laurie Weeks.

Replays showed that Du Plessis had slapped Weeks on the back of the head, prompting a barrage of punches from the Rebels frontrower. With the input of the TMO Marius Jonker, referee Jaco van Heerden yellow-carded Du Plessis and gave Weeks a red card.

It meant that the Rebels played with one man short for the whole second half, but it didn’t seem to faze them as they held their own in the scrums and had a real chance of winning after scoring two tries in the final quarter.

The Sharks had little impact on attack because they lacked straight runners and their handling – as well as the Rebels’ – was dreadful.

They were given a 10-0 lead five minutes after the Du Plessis/Weeks fracas thanks to a storming run by wing S’bura Sithole, who stood out for the Sharks with his work-rate and powerful running, but the Rebels were able to cut the deficit to 7-10 on the halftime whistle, thanks to a try by eighthman and captain Scott Higginbotham, who was rightly given the man of the match award despite finishing on the losing side.

The Sharks defence had held off the Rebels for numerous phases, but the explosive Higginbotham was then given the chance to score by a weak tackle by flyhalf Lionel Cronje.

The Sharks were under pressure early in the second half, but fullback Lwazi Mvovo saved them by intercepting on his own 22 and then racing away for an 80-metre try.

The home side were plagued by scrappy ball-retention and hesitancy on attack, but replacement centre Heimar Williams lifted them to a 22-7 lead after 52 minutes with a brilliant solo try.

The 23-year-old produced the direct running that had been so lacking, cutting back inside and then racing past the cover defence for the first try of his SuperRugby career and a memorable one at that.

The Rebels fought back doggedly, however, inspired by the brilliance of Higginbotham.

On the hour mark, he stormed through a big hole in the Sharks’ midfield for his second try and, with five minutes left in the match, he set up the Rebels’ third try, by replacement wing Bryce Hegarty.

The Sharks had been on attack after Mvovo broke from deep for the second time, but once again the poor ball-retention let them down, the Reds winning a turnover and Higginbotham surging forward from the 22-metre line.

The defeat means it is the end of the road for the Rebels’ hopes of reaching the playoffs, while the Sharks are still trying to rid their game of the basic errors that hold them back.

The defence was good at times, but the attack is amongst the most insipid in the competition.


Sharks – Tries: S’Bura Sithole, Lwazi Mvovo, Heimar Williams. Conversions: Lionel Cronje (2). Penalties: Cronje (2).

Rebels – Tries: Scott Higginbotham (2), Bryce Hegarty. Conversions: Jack Debreczeni (3).


Bulls prove their composure to pip WP 0

Posted on October 17, 2016 by Ken


Vodacom Blue Bulls coach Nollis Marais promised that his team were a different side from the one that lost at the same stage, against the same opponents, in last year’s Currie Cup, and they eventually proved that as they pipped DHL Western Province 36-30 in their thrilling semi-final at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday night.

The Bulls were probably worthy winners as they played most of the rugby, but whenever they looked like putting the squeeze on Western Province, they would make mistakes and the visitors were brilliant at scavenging opportunities and using them to the full.

It looked like the Bulls would falter at the same hurdle when Western Province went ahead 27-22 in the 58th minute and then again, 30-29, with just seven minutes remaining.

But the 2016 Blue Bulls showed their development in terms of composure and mental strength as they played pragmatic rugby in the closing stages to eventually edge home thanks to replacement scrumhalf Ivan van Zyl’s try with just 90 seconds remaining.

A try by wing Travis Ismaiel, after 10 minutes, with centre Burger Odendaal making a great run off the ball and then the final pass, made sure that the Bulls made a good start to settle the nerves.

But Western Province scored nine minutes later to make it 7-7 with a try that showed their pack was not about to be bossed around at Loftus Versfeld, the forwards marching a lineout drive for 20 metres and eighthman Nizaam Carr dotting down.

That seemed to fire up the Bulls though and they began to squeeze Western Province in the second quarter. Schoeman kicked another penalty (10-7) and then a huge scrum in front of their own bench that had their subs on their feet earned another penalty (13-7).

Western Province were clearly feeling the pressure as Juan de Jongh tried to carry the ball out of his 22 but was met by a firm head-on tackle by Schoeman and flank Roelof Smit, who enjoyed an outstanding first half, pounced on the turnover, winning another penalty as the Bulls stretched their lead to 16-7.

But the lapses that kept the visitors in the game, the little momentum-killers, then reared their ugly heads.

Smit fell foul of referee Marius van der Westhuizen at the first ruck from the kickoff, allowing Western Province flyhalf Robert du Preez to cut the deficit to 16-10 as the hooter went for the break.

The lead was then cut to just three points from the kickoff for the second half as flank Jannes Kirsten carried strongly as ever, but outside centre Dries Swanepoel went straight off his feet and sealed off the ball at the ruck, allowing Du Preez an easy kick to make 13-16.

The mercurial Schoeman pushed the lead back up to 19-13 after his lovely break had forced Western Province to go offsides to prevent a try, but the 25-year-old’s ability to deliver the sublime and the ridiculous within moments of each other was then shown as he provided the intercept that was snaffled up by lock Chris van Zyl, leading to wing Werner Kok roaring away for the try.

From that point onwards, control was slipping away from the Bulls. Schoeman, to his credit, would keep knocking over the vital kicks at goal, succeeding with all eight of his shots, but he also dropped the kickoff after his own 55th-minute long-range penalty to give Western Province prime position.

The Bulls conceded a penalty, which the visitors ran and lock Jan de Klerk stepped inside before barrelling over for the try.

Du Preez’s conversion put Western Province 27-22 up and the Bulls seemed to be on their way to another semi-final heartache when they lost their own lineout throw just outside the opposition 22. But they would get another chance as the clearing kick was taken by wing Jamba Ulengo, who raced off on a great run, Odendaal carrying the move on down the right as the Bulls roared back into the red zone. Several pick-and-goes later and replacement lock Jason Jenkins was over for the try, converted by Schoeman as the Bulls regained a 29-27 lead.

A crowd of nearly 18 000 roared the home team on – and was thanked profusely by the team management and CEO Barend van Graan after the game – and the Bulls produced an inspired period of defence on their own line.

But after their scramble defence won them the put-in at a scrum, they went down at the most inopportune moment, giving Du Preez a terrifying penalty which he nailed, giving him a 100% goalkicking record of 6/6.

Western Province were 30-29 ahead going into the last two minutes, but to the enormous credit of this young Bulls side, they kept their heads.

Van Zyl has just turned 21 and it was his smart break which put the Bulls on attack, only for some willing defence from Western Province to keep them out. The visitors did give them a lineout inside their own 22 though, and the Bulls were willing to show patience as they built the phases until the opposition just weren’t able to get enough defenders across to the next ruck, allowing Van Zyl to dart over for the matchwinning try.

It means the Blue Bulls are going to play in the Currie Cup final for the first time since 2009, and will travel down to Bloemfontein to take on the rampant Free State Cheetahs.

They are going to need all their new-found composure then as well.


Vodacom Blue BullsTries: Travis Ismaiel, Jason Jenkins, Ivan van Zyl. Conversions: Tian Schoeman (3). Penalties: Schoeman (5).

DHL Western ProvinceTries: Nizaam Carr, Werner Kok, Jan de Klerk. Conversions: Robert du Preez (3). Penalties: Du Preez (3).

Amla calm, but SA have scary moments in the field 0

Posted on August 20, 2015 by Ken


A typically calm Hashim Amla century set them on their way, but South Africa had to overcome some scary moments in the field before eventually beating New Zealand by 20 runs in the first Momentum One-day International at SuperSport Park in Centurion on Wednesday.

For those looking for deliverance from the demons of the World Cup semi-final in Auckland five months ago, this time the Proteas held their nerve to close out the game, despite some spirited lower-order batting by New Zealand.

Amla continued his personal love affair with SuperSport Park as his third ODI century in 10 innings at the ground took South Africa to 304 for seven in their 50 overs.

Amla, who has also scored four Test centuries at SuperSport Park and averages 85 in the long format there, batted through to the end of the 45th over in stroking a marvellous 124 off 126 balls and ending a lean run in which he had not scored a half-century in seven innings.

South Africa are amongst the leaders in world cricket when it comes to using the new ball in limited-overs cricket and so the Black Caps, with regular opener Martin Guptill pushed down the order after he injured his hand in the field late in the Proteas’ innings, were understandably cautious up front.

In the temporary absence of Guptill, wicketkeeper Luke Ronchi (1) was pushed up the order but was dropped third ball at second slip before edging the last delivery of the first over low to Amla at slip. It was a sensational opening over by Dale Steyn, with Tom Latham being dropped first ball by Farhaan Behardien at square-leg, a tough chance diving low to his left.

Steyn was then seen off by Latham and captain Kane Williamson and, with Vernon Philander typically tight up front as well, the New Zealand innings was off to a slow start.

But Latham was composed and Williamson was all class, identifying the times to attack extremely well, and the fifty partnership was raised off 77 balls.

The arrival of ODI debutant David Wiese as the fifth bowler was identified as the time to step up the pace and the next 50 runs took less than seven overs to post.

The hundred partnership was up off 117 balls, but it was the guile of leg-spinner Imran Tahir that was causing the New Zealand batsmen the most trouble and he removed Williamson for 47 when the Black Caps captain tried to clear the infield but instead picked out substitute Dean Elgar, who was positioned between extra cover and a deep mid-off.

Guptill, coming in at number four, caused some flutters in crashing 25 off 23 balls before Wiese removed him and South Africa looked well in control when Philander dismissed Grant Elliott (4), caught at a well-placed slip, and Latham, trapped lbw for a determined 60 off 80 balls, in the 30th over.

New Zealand were 158 for five, needing to practically double their score in the next 20 overs, but South Africa were placed under pressure again as Jimmy Neesham and Colin Munro slammed 71 off 68 balls for the sixth wicket.

The visitors needed 79 to win in the last 10 overs and Proteas fans were clearly worried that victory would once again be stolen from them.

But AB de Villiers backed Wiese to return and a well-directed bouncer had Neesham caught behind for a run-a-ball 41, with Munro falling three overs later for 33, also at a run-a-ball, playing an ugly reverse-heave at Tahir at the start of the 44th over.

New Zealand still needed 61 runs from 37 balls, but the remaining overs were punctuated with boundaries as the Kiwis came within a sniff of a chance.

Steyn ended McClenaghan’s fun with a fast, full and straight delivery that broke the off-stump in two, before Philander ended the match with a run out thanks to some slick work at deep mid-off.

Tahir was the best of the South African bowlers, ending with brilliant figures of two for 40 in 10 overs, while Philander was also consistent, finishing with two for 51.

Kagiso Rabada struggled with bouts of waywardness and extras, finishing with one for 49 in 9.1 overs, while the radar of Wiese was off on Wednesday night, although the all-rounder did claim the vital wickets of Guptill and Neesham.

An obvious lack of intensity in the field was what captain De Villiers was most concerned with, but the batting of Amla and Rilee Rossouw made up for that.

With the experienced Morne van Wyk opening the batting with him and lasting until the ninth over as 46 were added for the first wicket, Amla seemed better able to focus on his own batting and go at his own, measured pace.

New Zealand had won the toss and elected to bowl first and both Amla and Van Wyk were troubled early on by the pace and bounce obtained by Adam Milne and McClenaghan. But they picked their shots well and were just beginning to up the pace when the left-armer McClenaghan switched to around the wicket and immediately had Van Wyk (16) caught off the shoulder of the bat in the gully.

Once the new ball lost its shine, however, the pace of the pitch quickly disappeared, and Rossouw had to deal not only with Milne, who was a handful throughout, but also the sudden change of pace when the medium-pacers and spinners came on with the softer ball.

Rossouw endured a torrid start, scoring just 14 runs from his first 36 deliveries, but he and Amla had several conversations and wisely decided wickets in hand were more important than the run-rate at that stage.

The stand between them grew to a record 185 off 203 balls, South Africa’s best for the second wicket against New Zealand, beating the 172 Gary Kirsten and Jacques Kallis added in Kimberley in 2000/01.

Once settled, Rossouw was able to speed up, bludgeoning six fours and three sixes as he scored 89 off 112 balls, while Amla switched between accumulation and all-out attack with superb judgement. He was particularly impressive against the spinners, using his feet well and invariably placing his strokes between the fielders.

Rossouw was beaten by a superb McClenaghan yorker, into the base of leg-stump and breaking it, in the 42nd over, and Milne then returned to snap up two wickets in the 45th over – the vital scalps of Amla and De Villiers (9).

Amla was also bowled by a magnificent yorker, while De Villiers pulled a short ball straight to cow-corner.

The double strike took away some momentum from the South African innings, but Wiese hit two sixes off McClenaghan at the start of the final over to get the home side over the 300 mark.

McClenaghan then started bowling short and just one more run was added before the innings ended with two run outs.

Fast bowler Milne was the best of the New Zealand bowlers with two for 51 in 10 overs.


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